Filing an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in California

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Filing a lawsuit against your employer for employment discrimination in California can be very intimidating and complicated. You would first need to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) before taking your case to the court. In fact, as an employee, you are required to follow all the possible administrative remedies to settle the matter out of court before you file a lawsuit. Therefore, you should consider hiring a proficient California litigation lawyer to help you navigate all your options and understand the complex process of filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. On the other side, if you are an employer who is currently undergoing an employment discrimination lawsuit and or been accused of employment discrimination it is important to you hire a reputable California defense attorney to help you and your business defend itself from false claims settle the matter as efficiently as possible.

Right to Sue and Filing a Lawsuit

You can opt for an immediate right to sue notice so that you do not have to go through a thorough DFEH or EEOC investigation. This is recommended only if you have an experienced California litigation lawyer to help you through the case. Your lawyer can get a right to sue notice for you and file the lawsuit in California Superior Court in the county where you experienced the discrimination. Note that you can also wait for the DFEH to dismiss your case and then take it to the court.

After you have filed the lawsuit in court the defendant would be liable to respond to it with a formal answer, replying to the claim and discrimination allegations. The case might then proceed through litigation. Usually, civil employment discrimination lawsuits can take a long time to get to trial which is why it is recommended to settle the case out of court. It is possible to negotiate and reach a settlement at any point before the court makes a ruling. If no settlement is made on the case then the lawsuit would go for trial, where the judge and the jury would hear all the arguments and consider all the pieces of evidence to make a ruling.

How to Know if you are a Victim of Employment Discrimination

Most of the workplace discriminations are subtle and can easily go unnoticed. Employers know that employment discrimination in California could invite a lawsuit so they make sure that nothing is put in writing or said clearly to the employee that makes him/her feel as though they are being discriminated against. However, there are some signs that indicate employment discrimination, such as treating employees belonging to a certain group differently than other staff members or a sudden change in attitude after finding out that an employee belongs to a protected group. In general, potential discrimination in the workplace might include:

  • Unexpected changes in the employee’s job performance reviews
  • Exclusion of the employee from staff meetings and corporate events
  • Sudden changes in job responsibilities and/or increased workload
  • Reduction in work hours and/or reduced pay
  • Different rules for employees belonging to different backgrounds
  • Not taking action on co-workers making racist or sexist comments
  • Joking about the employee’s sexual orientation or accent
  • Not considering applicants that have ethnic-sounding names

Note that employers belonging to the same protected group can also discriminate against their employees. For instance, a female employer can discriminate against female applicants or employees because of their gender, or an African-American employer can discriminate against an African-American applicant or employee because of their ethnicity.

It is also important to understand that employment discrimination can happen to anyone and not just those who belong to a protected group. As per the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers are prohibited to discriminate against any employee or applicant based on their sex, gender, race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, marital status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, genetic information, medical condition, age, or military and/or veteran status.

The FEHA also states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against their employees in any aspect of their job, such as not hiring an applicant, not providing the required training program, firing or laying off an employee, or not offering the employee benefits and other privileges to him/her based on any of the above-mentioned reasons. Similarly, it is considered employment discrimination if the employer refuses to offer a reasonable accommodation to the employee, denies a promotion, benefits, and/or reinstatement, reduces the pay, or makes the working conditions so hard that the employee is forced to quit the job.

Employment discrimination laws in California are also applicable to trade unions and labor organizations. Under the law, they are prohibited from expelling, excluding, or restricting the membership of an individual based on any of the aforementioned discriminatory categories. Likewise, the federal and state discrimination laws also apply to employment agencies and institutes that offer training programs to job aspirants. The California law gives a civil right to all its citizens to have an opportunity to find and get employment without being discriminated based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and any other form of illegal discrimination. Those who experience any kind of injustice at the workplace can file a lawsuit against the employer for employment discrimination. Likewise, an employer has every right to defend themselves from these types of claims with the help of an experienced defense attorney and will fight to prove that any employment discrimination accusations are either proven false or settled out of court as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

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